Transport Secretary dismisses reports Government coronavirus testing website crashed

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has denied a website launched by the Government for key workers to book a coronavirus test crashed under the pressure of applications.

The Government’s Covid-19 testing website was overwhelmed as it opened to new bookings today, with home testing kits running out in the first two minutes of the site going live.

Up to 10m key workers and their households in England are now eligible for coronavirus tests if they have symptoms as the Government races to hit its 100,000-a-day testing target by next Thursday.

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Under the expansion, NHS and social care staff, police officers, teachers, social workers, undertakers, journalists and those who work in supermarkets and food production are among those now eligible.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Photo:PA

People can register on the gov.uk website for an appointment at a drive-through centre or can request a home test kit, which ran out almost immediately after opening to bookings at 6am.

But speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing at 10 Downing Street, Mr Shapps said: “There were reports that the website had crashed, which it hadn’t, it was simply that the slots for today were taken up.

“We’ve seen in the last few days this difference between the capacity available, I think the last figure I saw was 51,000, and the number of tests done, 28,000 yesterday.

“And how important it is to make sure we’re using that available capacity, people being able to book online directly, that’s all the critical workers, 10.72 million people with their families, are those who are able now to use that site.

“I can tell you 16,000 of those were booked during the first period of that being online and the site has actually been brought back up around now for more people to go and book sites, it will then close off again, more tests will become available tomorrow and so on.”

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